✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 51 - 60 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Pausing the carriage- Part 1

Madeline had never stayed out of her house at this hour of the night, at least not near the forest, which made her worry and scared. Her eyes kept darting at every single sound that she came to hear. She could only hope that she was covering a decent amount of distance and she would reach the village. 

Finally, like a ray of sunshine, horses neighed, and she prayed that it was someone who didn't belong to the castle. Not all rays were the happy ones, and with that thought, she came to stand in the path so that the coachman would be able to see her and stop. Raising her hands, she waved them. The coachman first didn't stop, and therefore she had to use her mouth to alert him,

"Please stop! Please!" she cried to gain the coachman's attention. 

The coachman did stop, looking at the lady, "Milady what are you doing here in the middle of the forest?" asked the coachman. Whoever was sitting inside the carriage must have asked who the coachman was talking to as the coachman turned his head to say, "There's a lady who is standing here. Seems like she's lost." 

Madeline quickly went to the window, and she saw it was a man who was inside the carriage who appeared to be in his forties. 

"I am looking to go to the village that comes after this forest. Could you please give me a ride there?" she asked him, her eyebrows drawn together. 

The man looked at her, looking at her attire and then her face, "How do we know you aren't a witch who is trying to get into the carriage and kill us?" he asked. His question surprised her, and for a second, she blinked at him. 


"I said how do we know you are not some stranded woman?" he asked her. When he moved his lips, the moustache on his lips moved along with his thin mouth. 

Madeline closed her eyes. She was tired and exhausted but going back was her priority, "I was riding a carriage, but they didn't give me a full ride. They had me step down after a few minutes," she spoke the truth, hoping he would listen to her, "Please. All I ask is for a ride," she pleaded. The man leaned forward, and he opened the door. 

"Just a ride," he said, and she gave him a look of relief. 

"Thank you so much. Thank you," she bowed her head, but the man didn't say anything. 

Madeline felt better now that she was in the carriage. With her hands folded together on her lap, she sat there quietly without a word. She could feel the man's gaze on her, but she didn't look at him straight. She bared the atmosphere in the carriage which was turning hostile even without any exchange of words, but the man then spoke, 

"I am Anthony Bartholomew," he introduced himself, giving his hand and Madeline had to oblige by giving her hand to him.

"Madeline," she felt him kiss the back of her hand, and the little action made her skin crawl. Now that she thought about it, she realised how when Calhoun had kissed her hand she had never felt disgusted by it when they had first met. 

"No last name?" asked Anthony and Madeline shook her head. She didn't want to build an acquaintance here when all she wanted was to finish her ride as soon as she could. 

"No," Madeline shook her head, "Do you know what time it is now?" she asked him curiously.

The man pulled out his watch that was made out of gold. He said, "It is thirty-seven minutes past six," compared to the previous questioning gaze, the man was being friendly. She had to jerk her hand away from his hold, and she offered him a small smile, "Thank you."

Returning her hand on her lap, she heard the man say, "You seem to look rich. Was it your family who kicked you out of the carriage? Families can be impudent at times," the man tried to console her. 

Madeline wondered if it was good to lie as she didn't know this man. Not to forget he was trying to get close to her by being familiar. She said nothing but gave him a half-smile before the smile fell from her lips. With the carriage that had started, she could only hope the villages would come in picture, and she would get down, to never see this man ever again. 

"Where do you live, Lady Madeline? I can drop you to your home instead of having you drop in the middle," offered the man, a smile upon his lips now that made him look like a sleazy man and she knew she shouldn't be thinking about it. Still, with him continuously looking at her it was making it difficult to sit ignoring it. 

"I am here to visit a friend of mine."

At the time of night? Now? Asked the man to himself. He could tell that she was lying else why would someone be stranded at the side of the forest at this hour of the day. He moved closer to her, sliding on the seat to sit in front of her and Madeline had to sit back with her back touching the seat. 

The man smiled at her, one tooth of his at the side was made of gold, "I offered you a ride, shouldn't you give me something in return?" he asked her, placing his hand on her knee which she swatted away quickly. 

"What do you think you are doing?" asked Madeline. Her words were careful while keeping her eyes on him. 

"Getting favours of course," he said and the man placed his hand on her knee again, this time gripping it, "Don't act so poise-"

"Let go of my leg! Stop the carriage!" she shouted. 

"Now now. Be good-" and without needing to be told, the coachman pulled the reins of the horses to stop the carriage from going any further, "Why did you stop here you idiot?" asked the man, "Women shout all the time. Doesn't mean you stop because of it. Start the carriage!" he ordered the coachman. 

"Sir, we have another carriage stopped in front of ours. They aren't moving," the coachman answered. 

To get away from this man who was trying to get his hand on her, Madeline's hand reached for the door, and she quickly stepped out of the carriage. The man followed her suit, and she walked only until she noticed the carriage that stood in the middle of the road. The black carriage was parked in a way to cross the road, stopping anyone from passing through. Four black horses stood at the front of the carriage tied to it. 

The carriage's door flew open, and the dark-haired man with red eyes stepped out of the carriage. His entire demeanour made Madeline stagger back and her breath shuddered by the sight of him. 

Madeline had not expected him to find her. Not now at least. She thought he would be searching for her with the guards and his wolf in the prowl. 

H-he had found her.

Pausing the carriage- Part 2

Madeline's face turned pale by looking at Calhoun who had stepped down from the carriage, and his eyes then swept from the carriage that was in front of him to look at her. At that moment she realized she was in far worse trouble than she had ever been. Calhoun's face barely showed any emotion, he walked towards her, each step of his making her nervous, and she wished she could run, but she was rooted to the spot, his eyes making it difficult for her to move an inch. 

The man who had given her a ride had not seen the man approaching them because of the lack of light, but she had seen him, which was why she was quiet. 

"What do you think you are doing by blocking our ride?" the man demanded with a rude tone, "Get your damn carriage out of the path. Come on, out with it! Do you think this road is yours to block it?" Madeline heard the man continue to ramble, not knowing who was here. 

Calhoun reached her, coming to stand in front of her and he looked at her. Madeline didn't meet his eyes as she was shocked. With Calhoun who was yet to speak to her, Madeline felt goosebumps forming on her skin which wasn't because of the cold. The man behind her wanted to get his hands on her, and the person in front of her wanted to cage her back in the castle. 

"Come, Madeline. Sit back inside the carriage," said Anthony. She wondered why she didn't notice before that the man had an accent. 

Calhoun's lips twitched, and he continued to stare hard at her, "Who is the man?" his voice was low and deep. She gulped. 

"I don't know," Madeline's voice was small. The thought of being caught by him was ringing in her mind continuously that made thinking difficult. She felt Calhoun's glaring eyes at her, and she tried to hold her ground. 

Calhoun's face had been shadowed with no light on it and Anthony not liking his treat of touching a young woman had been interrupted, he came forward, placing his hand on Madeline's shoulder, "Come, dear. Let's get you back inside." Calhoun's eyes snapped at the man before he pulled the man's hand towards him to twist and push him against the surface of the carriage. 

Madeline took a couple of steps away from the men as Calhoun pushed the man further into the carriage. From where she stood, she could feel the vapours of rage coming off from Calhoun. 

"What are you doing?!" Anthony demanded, who was yet to figure out who he was talking to. 

"How dare you touch her," Calhoun lowly threatened the man. His eyes had turned hollow in anger, and he threw the man across the ground. The King's eyes then snapped at Madeline, "Why is he talking to you familiarly?" he asked her, one of his eyebrows raising in question. 

Madeline shook her head. At the same time, the light from the hanging lantern finally fell on Calhoun's face to let the man who was trying to get up, noticed who was standing in front of him. Anthony's eyes widened that the person he was talking to was none other than the King, "Milord," the man quickly bowed his head, such that his forehead touched the dirty ground while he offered his peace, "Please forgive this fool as I failed to notice you." 

Calhoun looked down at the man, his eyes smouldering, and he said, "Were you the one who tried to steal her away from me?" 

The man's forehead was still stuck to the ground when he opened his eyes and blinked at what the King just said. Confused slightly, he raised his head with both his knees touching the ground, "What?" he raised his hands to wave them, "No no! She said she wanted a ride, and I complied to her wishes," said Anthony quickly. His eyes moved from the King to the girl who stood behind the King and then back at the King. 

"I didn't know her, she said she was going to her friend's house," blabbered the man when he didn't receive any words from Calhoun. 

"Theodore," called Calhoun and the man appeared, "Take Madeline inside the carriage."

"Milady," Theodore bowed his head, and Madeline clenched her fist, not happy that she had to sit back in the carriage where she would be taken back to the place she had thought she was free from. 

Calhoun wasn't looking at her but at the man who had raised his head, fear slowly crawling towards him which could now be seen in his eyes. Madeline turned her head, and with difficult steps, she stepped inside the carriage. Her hands were shivering for the oncoming storm that was going to hit her life far worse than before, and she was scared about what was going to happen. 

Anthony begged, "Please forgive me for my impudence, milord!" 

Calhoun gave him a nod before saying, "Stand up." Hearing this, the man let out a sigh of relief, and he stood up, dusting his knees that came to stick to his trousers. 

"Thank you, my King. You're the most forgiving and generous one," praised the man, trying to flatter him. 

"Are you speaking about me? Doesn't look like any of the qualities that belong to me." 

Anthony blinked again, the smile on his lips faltering when he saw the serious look on Calhoun's face and his eyes that looked annoyed. The man gulped, and his eyes widened. He tried to step away, but when he did try, Calhoun had caught hold of his shoulder. Bringing him forward, he placed another hand of his on the top of the man's head. 

"Forgiving is the last thing you should associate me with," he snarled. Putting force on the man's head, he tore the man's head off his shoulder before throwing it on the ground where the blood started to spread.

Provoking- Part 1

Calhoun returned to the carriage after a few minutes later, taking the seat right next to her. Madeline wished there was another door to get out from the carriage, but there wasn't one. Her lips trembled; therefore, she didn't open it. Too stunned to say anything and react, she sat quietly as she felt his overbearing presence in this closed space. 

She waited for Theodore to join them inside, but when the door of the carriage was closed, she felt her heart almost slip out of her chest. Internally she was a mess, and she couldn't think straight. By the screams that she heard from outside, it was evident that the King had finished the man off who had given her the ride. The horses started to pull the carriage, and they began to head back to the castle, the same place she had tried to get away. 

He didn't speak to her, not a word and Madeline wasn't sure if it was a good or a bad thing. She was scared of what he was going to say or do. She didn't dare to look at him nor utter a word.

Madeline's eyes moved to the side, trying to look from the corner of her eyes to see what he was doing. Calhoun sat with his leg cross one over the other. His eyes turned to look outside the window as if they were going back to the castle after a regular trip. She knew this was the calm before the storm. 

When the carriage stopped, the coachman opened the door for Calhoun to step down. He looked ahead of him before turning around, offering his hand for Madeline to take. 

Madeline would have told him she was fine to step out without his help, but she could feel the guilt of being caught. No matter how much she wanted to stop trembling, her hand couldn't stop it, and she placed it in his hand for him to clasp. And the grip was tight that made her flinch before he loosened his hold on her hand without letting it go as he pulled her inside the castle. 

He continued to drag her without letting go of her hand, passing through the halls and corridors before he came to his room. Pushing the doors, he locked the room to push her on his bed. 

Calhoun moved towards her like a feline, and before she could move, he had moved himself to hover above her. 

His red eyes glared down at her, "You have the nerve to give me the slip when I warned you not to run away and look where we are now," he moved his hand forward to have her lean back against the surface of the bed. Madeline supported herself with her two hands, her eyes staring back at him, "Did you think you could run away, and I wouldn't find you?" 

"You lied to me!" said Madeline, "You never had any intention to let me go-"

She had to stop talking when he brought his face close to hers, almost feeling his lips which were an inch away from her, "Makes me think you have not been listening to me, my sweet girl. How naive of you to think that I would let you go when I have just found you."

"Why did you lie to me then?" she asked angrily, pushing him away but Calhoun didn't budge. 

Using both her hands she tried to get away from him but Calhoun caught her hands in his. He pushed them behind her back to hold them single-handedly, and it would be a lie to say that he didn't enjoy the state she was in. 

Her eyes mellowed, and she said, "Why did you give me hope if you were only going to take it away from me? Why would you do that?!" 

"You should have known better that I wouldn't let you go. We could have negotiated if you had returned to the castle but look what you did," he tsked at her, blaming her, "Now I will need to exercise for what you just did. I told you not to run, and you just did that." 

"No," Madeline whispered, "If you hadn't lied-"

"What?" asked Calhoun. The man invaded her space, not caring as he looked at her. His eyes piercing her, "You should be happy that I am treating you gently."

"This is not gentle," she gulped when his face came close to her face again, his full lips a breath away from hers.

"This is gentle in my terms. Do you want me to show the other side," at his words, her heart started to race in her chest. His lips then moved to her cheek, "Shall I?" he asked her, his breath falling on her skin that raised goosebumps. 

Madeline had closed her eyes, feeling every little movement of his. His lips didn't touch her skin, but that didn't mean his breath didn't evoke the helplessness she felt under him, "Please," Madeline pleaded. 

"You should have thought about it before deciding to step out of the castle," his nose drew in the scent of roses on her which he had smelled the first time he had her in his arms during the time of the ball, "You should have known better than run away from here. Do you know how furious I was when I didn't find you in the maze? Provoking me when you have been warned more than two times, do you think you are worthy of asking to be released from my hold? You need to remember that you brought it upon yourself."

"I am being patient with you. Waiting for you, yet you do things that will make me upset," his lips had moved down to her throat, every word of his reverberating against her skin, "As much as I loved the chase to having you back by my side, it is time for you to be punished so that we don't have any repetition of what occurred today."

Provoking- Part 2

With her hands held behind her back, Madeline struggled to get away from him but that only amused him further, "I want to go back to the room," she said to him, her breath of words falling not too far away from him and the grip on her tightened but not too tight to bruise her skin. 

Somewhere Calhoun knew it would come to this but who knew she would find the opportunity to run away from the castle, moving past the guards and making halfway away from this place. After a while, she had stopped moving to realise that there was no point in her struggling. 

Madeline could feel his breath. It tickled and tried to entice her, "So stubborn," he whispered to her. 

Calhoun's natural black hair which was combed back fell on his face now—creating a shadow which she noticed when he pulled away from her face to look at her. Maybe if Madeline was not intent on defying and trying to get away from him, she would have noticed why there were rumours about him being a devil's reincarnation when it came to looks. It was told that when a woman would cross path with the devil, she would fall on his feet because of the way he looked and the words he could spin in his web. 

His mouth parted and his jaw moved, his tongue playing with the fangs that grew and Madeline's eyes widened.

He moved forward, his fangs lightly scraping the surface of her neck and Madeline had to make sure she didn't move at the fear of those fangs sinking into her skin. 

"Do you know, Madeline, since I met you anything I drink feels like low-quality blood. I have sunk my teeth so many times, but I don't find the satisfaction at the thought of how your blood might taste on my lips. It makes my mouth water," he said those words to hear her heart beating quickly. It brought a wicked smile on his lips, "And to think you're right here."

"Please don't kill me," she pleaded. Her eyes squeezed together in fear, her body running down with termors at the thought of him going to kill her. 

She had heard how the night creatures killed people with their bare hands apart with the sheer strength of their body. People like her, who were humans were brought up to know and understand that the night creatures killed people without any mercy and had no remorse over their actions. To them, they were nothing but a source of food. 

Calhoun was surprised, and if there was one thing he knew, Madeline was a silly little girl for not listening to a word he had been telling her, "Killing is the last thing I would do when there are so many other interesting things which I can do to you. It would be such a waste to kill you."

His eyes moved from her neck to look at her face, and he noticed how her brown eyes glistened. When she was looking up at him, one side of his lips pulled up, "Consequences, sweet girl," a small tear slipped from one side of her eye at the thought he was going to kill her and Calhoun bent forward, his tongue catching it. 

Madeline's eyes widened, "W-what are you doing?" she asked in shock. 

"Not doing what I want to," he stared at her face before moving away from her, "Leave," his voice turning cold. 

Madeline frowned at his words.

It was like his mood had changed with a blink of an eye. But one word was enough from him to have her move out of the bed and make a run towards the door. Her hands tried to open the door, but the lock appeared to be different as it took her four more seconds before she was able to open it. She turned to see Calhoun, who had his back facing her. When his head moved to the side, without spending another second, she ran out of the room to go to the place she was given in this castle. 

When she reached the room, her hands continued to shake, but the tears that had threatened to slip out of her eyes previously at the thought of him biting and sucking her blood until the last drop had dried up because of the wind. 

Neither Madeline nor her family had ever met a night creature before. Calhoun was the first vampire, and the man was too intense that it was hard not to shudder under his gaze. She had hoped to escape from the castle, especially with her luck to get a ride out of this place. But who knew that Calhoun was adamant in catching her to bring her back to the one place she didn't want to be. She knew if it was another girl like her sister, Beth, she would have taken this opportunity to get close to the King but how could she when she never had any intention or feelings towards him. Instead, she shared minimal feelings with James Heathcliff. 

The King scared her. His dark red eyes were intimidating, the words he uttered were cunning, and he had killed people in front or around her. 

She locked the door, stepping away while being surrounded in silence until she heard the howl of the wolf that was possibly left out in the open. Going towards the bed, she climbed and pulled the pillow to hold. 

Hearing Madeline leave the room, he raised his hand to weave it through his thick locks of hair. His hair fell on one side of his face while he stared at the bed where he had held her under him. 

His feet made its way to the bath where freshwater was filled until the brim. Walking down the stairs that led into the bath, he continued to step closer into the cold water with his clothes on. Dipping into the bath, to immerse himself completely, he finally got out of it to cool his head.
Wounded leg- Part 1

He spent enough time in the bath, cooling himself off over the anger and restraint that slipped through his fingers like sand. His clothes were soaked, and drops of water fell on the dried ground of the room. His hair looked darker, and so did his eyes with the water sliding down to the tip of his hair. 

When Madeline was under him on his bed, looking up at him defenceless with her eyes teary, all he had wanted to do was sink his fangs into her to hear her cry out his name and the thought had driven him to the edge. Her body was small against him, just a bunch of clothes separating her from his touch. 

When Calhoun had found that she was nowhere on the grounds of the castle, he was furious that Madeline could think that she could run away from him. No matter how many times she would run, he would find her and bring her back to his side. She was being stubborn because her freedom was taken away, but if he returned her freedom to her, she would take less than two seconds to leave again, and it wasn't something he was willing to do; when in truth he wanted to lay her down on the bed and have his way with her. 

Madeline continued to lay down on the bed, not willing to step outside the room. When a maid arrived to knock on the door to let her know that dinner was ready, she sent the maid away telling that she had a headache and wanted to sleep. Hearing the footsteps leave, she finally got up, staring at the door with an unhappy face. 

Her freedom was right there, to her hand's reach. If not her house, she would have gone somewhere else as she had worn the jewels that were given to her which she could sell. Somewhere she was also thankful for the carriage to stop as the man who was dead now had tried to touch her. If Calhoun had not arrived, the carriage would have never stopped, and she didn't know if the man would be successful in molesting her or she would have hit him enough to throw him out of the moving carriage. 

Her room was filled with silence and not a sound heard from outside. When she tried to move, she realised she had hurt herself during her time in the maze when she had tried to climb up the holly plant. 

With Calhoun who had himself told her to get out of the room, she decided that he wouldn't be speaking to her today. 

She started to take her clothes off one after another until she stood in nothing but in her petticoat. She sat back down on the bed. She raised her leg to place it on the bed to see the dried blood that had trickled down from her calf muscle to her ankle. When her hand reached for it, she winced as the wound felt tender.

Getting the towel wet, Madeline sat down ready to clean the blood when the doors of the room opened, and she thought she had locked it. 

"Do you need an invitation of threat every time you are asked to join me for a meal?" asked Calhoun who hadn't noticed the towel she had dropped on the ground along with her leg which she quickly placed down. 

"I am not hungry. And didn't you ask me to leave?" asked Madeline. She had to crane her neck up when he walked forward. to stand in front of her. 

When he leaned towards her, Madeline leaned back to have him place both of his hands on either side of her. He stared into her eyes, "You will come when I call you, where I call you. Haven't you done enough by causing trouble today?" 

Madeline gritted her teeth, "Maybe if you hadn't lied this would have never happened," she said, and she saw how Calhoun's lips twitched. That malicious smile coming forward. 

"Are you blaming me, Maddie?" asked Calhoun, his words coming out slow and deliberate, "If you had come straight to me, there wouldn't have been blood on my hands today. Look what you made me do."

"I didn't ask you to kill him," whispered Madeline as they pushed the blame on each other. 

"You didn't, but I felt the need to do it," agreed Calhoun. His eyes moved from her eyes, taking in the attire of the flimsy cloth, "You think I don't know he tried to touch you in that carriage of his? The way he kept trying to put his hand back on you, trying to usher you into the carriage. I didn't know you were into men like those. Is that your secret fantasy?" he asked, and Madeline frowned. 

"I don't have such ill thoughts," she had been desperate for help and to get a ride. 

"Nothing wrong in wanting it. I feel like wanting to touch you all the time," he grinned that had Madeline gulp, "I cannot help but think about it," this made Madeline lean back.

He then pulled away to say, "Get dressed. We are going to have dinner." 

"I am not hungry," Madeline said and it was the truth. She had lost her appetite. All she wanted to do was crawl back into the bed and sleep. 

"If you won't eat, I know how to feed you myself. Don't try to test me Madeline, not today when you have tried to defy my words. Join me before I change my mind to something you won't like," he lowly threatened her and Madeline felt trapped. This was no courtship! All he was doing was forcing her to come to his terms. 

Calhoun had meant every word, and those were not empty threats. His eyes then caught sight of the wet towel, and he remembered how she had her one leg placed on the bed when he had entered the room,

"Did something happen to your leg?" he asked her, sitting down on the bed before she could protest, he pushed her petticoat up until her knees without any shame.

Wounded leg- Part 2

When Madeline felt Calhoun's hands pick up both her legs to place it on the surface of the bed she hadn't expected him to push her petticoat up until her knee like it was nothing. She tried to stop his hand, but she had forgotten how strong he was. Pushing him away was like dealing with a rock. 

"When did you get hurt?" he asked her, his eyes moving from the wound and then looking at her. The blood had dried which was why he couldn't smell it. Not to forget the blood of the man that had been spilt by his own hands which made him not notice it earlier in the carriage and his room, "Speak," he demanded. 

"In the maze," she muttered under her breath, "I can take care of myself."

"I can see that. How well you take care of yourself. Jumping into a strangers carriage not knowing if you will be raped or sucked dry before being thrown to rot in the corner of the forest until someone finds you," he responded with a glare in his eyes so that she wouldn't be any more defiant than she had already displayed for the day, "Trying to climb the walls of the holly plant? What an idiot," he looked back at the wound before picking up the wet towel that was on the ground. 

"Don't you know, you're not supposed to touch a woman like this! It is not considered to be a gentleman's action," Madeline felt her face turning red with her leg exposed and him holding her ankle. 

Calhoun looked up at her, "It has been only a few hours since we spent our time together, but you should know better that I am not that. Unfortunately, I was not taught to be nice."

"I am an unmarried girl, and you cannot do this-"

"Don't tell me what to do and what not to do just because I am lenient with you," his sharp words had her stop talking, "Do you think I will share you with someone? If you have thoughts of being with someone else, like that man your mother mentioned then throw it out of the window. You're stuck with me, darling." 

He had placed one hand gripping her ankle and the other that was placed on the hem of her petticoat near her knee. And when Madelin tried to move away, his grip on her ankle tightened. Bringing the towel forward, he wiped the dried blood from her ankle, his movements gentler compared to his hold on her ankle. 

Madeline's body had turned stiff with every touch of his hand along with the towel that was made on her skin. Unable to look at Calhoun who has his hands on her leg, she looked at one of the bedposts. She hadn't expected him to be gentle, not with the way he spoke and demanded her attention. 

"What were you thinking trying to climb inside the maze?" he asked her. His lips twitching at the thought of how she would have felt when she realised there was no exit to the maze, "How unladylike," he commented and Madeline bit the inside of her cheek. Compared to Beth, Madeline tried her best to be presentable. To appear more poised as her older sister had mastered the skill on how to mingle with the higher-ups and how to talk and behave with them, unlike Madeline, who was yet to learn those things. 

"I don't want to be ladylike!" Madeline retorted. 

"I am fine with that," answered Calhoun. Throwing the towel at the far corner of the room that would be picked up by the maid, "Anyways I like you like this. It gets too boring when every woman tries to mimic each other," her hand clenched hearing this. It was as if anything she would say, he would turn it to his benefit. 

He let go of her ankle. Placing his hands on the bed, he leaned behind to take in her appearance. Things he wasn't able to see in the morning with her back facing him, he could now see the outline of it. 

"I don't mind you joining like this for dinner with me. It would be a treat to my mouth and eyes," he commented, and Madeline quickly got up from the bed to reach out for a dress to wear. When she turned around, she saw him looking at her brazenly. 

"Can you please not look," she asked. It was like he was hellbent in making her feel uncomfortable. He had a crooked smile on his face as he turned his head as he sat on the bed with his legs crossed leisurely. 

"People don't need eyes to see, Madeline," she heard Calhoun say, the smile still playing on his lips, "Imagination is enough to see and feel things."

Madeline had quickly slipped into her dress and she shut her eyes, praying to God hoping she would somehow one day get out of this castle and away from this crazy King. She didn't explore her thoughts on what he said as she knew she would only turn more embarrassed and that was what he wanted. 

As she was done tying the lace around her back, Calhoun finally pushed himself forward to get up from the bed, "I forgot to ask you. How do you like your room?" 

"Just like a prison."

Hearing this Calhoun smiled, "A pretty one, isn't it? If you don't like this one, the offer to my room still holds."

Madeline quickly replied, "I am fine."

"That's what I thought. Let's have some food. I am starving," Calhoun started to walk towards the door, and Madeline followed him.

This time it seemed that they were not having their dinner in his room as he led her through other corridors, taking turns every now and then. She wondered how long it would be until she would come to memorize the path as most of them looked the same. And as the thought passed her mind, she cursed herself that she was thinking about memorizing the place.

Was it because deep down she knew there was no escape from Calhoun?
Pretty lips- Part 1

Instead of King Calhoun's room, Madeline stepped into the dining room of the castle. At first, she had thought they were going elsewhere, but it seemed like they were only walking in the castle before making their way to the dining room. The servant was quick to pull out the chair for the King as well as Madeline. She sat down on the chair, which was pushed towards the table. 

Having worn a loose dress now, it felt much better as it was breathable. Now that she thought about it, Madeline wondered how she had managed to run in the dress she had worn earlier. Where there was a will, there was a way, thought Madeline to herself, but only this time the way had been cut short to have her return back to the castle. 

Three hours ago, she had thought she would be seeing her family and that she would be united with them even if it was going to be for a short duration of time, but here she was sitting in the dining room with Calhoun. 

"Thinking about your little escape plan?" asked Calhoun and her eyes snapped to look at him, seeing him pick up the glass that was filled with red liquid until the very brim of it, "I must say, I was surprised not to find you at the maze in the evening. I would have never guessed that you would take a run towards the gates. How did you get past the guards?" he asked, intrigued. 

He took a sip from the glass before running his tongue on his lips and sucking the remaining liquid that had settled on his full lips, "Be wise with your answer. You wouldn't want to irk my mood, would you?" He placed the glass down on the table. 

"I got a ride."

Calhoun stared at her, "From the castle?" he asked, wondering which coachman had dared to give her a ride to step outside the castle without his permission, "Did you charm one of the servants here to help you leave? Who was it?" The maids had started to serve the food.

"Lady Rosamund and her family were passing by in the carriage-"

"How kind of them," commented Calhoun, sarcasm in his voice and after two seconds a chuckle passed through his lips, "They dropped you in the middle of the road."

Madeline didn't look at him but stared at the things that was on the table. He was having a ball by thinking about it and laughing that the help she felt she could get was dismissed by his aunt. She was naive to believe that someone like Lady Rosamund would provide her help when the woman had shown immediate distaste and dislike towards her. 

"What a silly girl you are. How does it feel to be back in the castle than being molested by an older man?" Now that she was caught, Calhoun was going to keep throwing it in her face on what happened and how she had been unsuccessful. The smirk on his face made her want to run away, even more, to show him that she could do it, and she would not be caught. 

"I am not used to being alone."

"You have me," Calhoun raised his hand to bring the servant forward who was waiting on them in the room, "Get Lady Madeline's things shifted to my room."

"No!" Madeline quickly protested against it.

Calhoun tilted his head, "You said you were feeling lonely," and she clutched her hands under the table. Her nails dug into her palms. 

"That's not what I meant," she said, meeting his eyes. 

"I thought that was what you meant and you were shy speak about it," a bright smile lit upon his face, "Don't be shy to tell me if you feel lonely. I will make sure to make it less isolated."

She preferred solitude than his company, "I am fine with how things are."

Madeline didn't want to worsen her luck if he decided to have her in his room. The two times when she was in his room, both the time had resulted in him pushing her down on the bed with him on top of her. If she were to be moved to his room, Madeline didn't know if she would be able to protect her chastity with him in his bedroom. 

Calhoun took his fork and knife, cutting the meat and adding it with the leafy vegetable to raise his hand towards her mouth. Was he planning to feed her? Madeline's eyes moved between the fork and his face, "Eat."

When her delicate pink lips parted, Calhoun's eyes were quick to pick the action. She parted it further, widening her mouth, and he pushed the food into her mouth, which was more abundant than her mouth could hold. 

"We'll need to work on that mouth of yours," commented Calhoun which she didn't understand as Madeline was trying to make sure she didn't spill the food out of her mouth. As much as she tried to hold in, the liquid dripped down from the corner of her lips and when Madeline picked up the napkin that she had placed on her lap, Calhoun had leaned forward to wipe the liquid with his thumb leaving her dumbstruck with his action. 

The stroke of his thumb was sensual near her mouth before he brought the same thumb to his mouth, sucking it with his lips and licking it that turned Madeline red with embarrassment. 

She opened her mouth, but her mind was unable to make coherent words that could be put out of her lips. If it was possible, she would have pulled out the table cloth and rolled over to hide and save herself from any further Calhoun's blatant or brazen action. 

"Delicious, isn't it?" asked Calhoun to her, while she was still chewing what he had stuffed into her mouth. When her eyes moved slowly to look at him, he said, "The meat was hunted and sent by the family who dropped you in the middle of the forest," and one corner of his lips pulled itself up in mirth.

Pretty lips- Part 2

If Madeline thought that Calhoun would stop feeding her with one bite, she was wrong. Calhoun wrapped another piece of meat with the vegetables before raising it to her lips. This was the fifth time he was doing it and each time the bite was turning to be bigger than the previous one, and she wasn't sure if she should hold it in.

"I am full," Madeline said before he could start wrapping another piece of food to stuff into her mouth. 

"You sure?" he asked, his face serious, but his eyes told another story.

Madeline didn't want to be fed by his hand again. She could still feel his thumb that brushed near the corner of her lips before he took the same to suck into his mouth. She had heard the King to be cruel and cold-blooded, but she wondered how people had missed from the rumour that he was a presumptuous man who always did what pleased him.

"I don't have an appetite," she said, looking into his eyes, and he gave her a nod. It wasn't just the size of the bite or the person who was feeding her. With him poking her with the fact that the meat was brought in by his aunt after the animal hunt, it reduced Madeline's appetite. 

"Okay," he believed, giving her a nod and said, "Give me company while I am eating. Having you around brightens my time," Calhoun picked up the glass, taking a sip while having his eyes on her and pulling back to lick his lips, "This is the time for you speak, sweetheart."

Madeline was in no mood to speak, but now that he asked her, she decided to ask, "Do you never make your presence known to the public?" her brown eyes looked at him, "I don't think any of us villagers and most of the townsfolk have ever seen you out there. You didn't show up at the ball."

"Did you forget that I danced with you? I am hurt that you don't remember the lovely night you spent in my arms. Dancing of course," he added as if she would take it in another sense, one of his eyebrow-raising at her in question. 

Madeline's lips pursed at the thought that she would grow old here. At the same thought, she wondered why he wanted to keep her here in this castle when she would grow old and wither away. He could have a vampiress of his kind who would live the same years like him. 

"That's not what I meant."

"What did you mean then?" he asked, wanting her to humour him. 

She parted her lips to speak, "Like, you didn't make an appearance as the King. There was no announcement about you entering the ballroom. A lot of them were waiting to see or catch a glimpse of you."

"What about you?" asked Calhoun. The way he looked at her, his gaze haunting without leaving her face.

For once she felt her lips to be glued, her eyes darting between his eyes, "I didn't expect anything," and it was the truth. She had come to visit the castle at the thought that it would be pleasant. It was Beth who was talking about him, picking the good rumours about him and letting Madeline know about him, on how she would impress and charm him, "A person like me has never been invited to a ball before. I was looking forward to seeing what it was." 

"And nothing about me?" Calhoun was persistent in knowing what she had been thinking before she met him, "If my memory serves right, you were keen to see the King. Asking me if I worked for him."

"I was just curious at that time. You invited us but didn't make an appearance."

"The mortals don't take the King with ease," said Calhoun, a chuckle escaping his lips, "I wouldn't want to frighten my subjects. Humans can be very skittish most of the time. It was an invitation to the lion's den, and I had no interest in others, just this one girl who appeared to be out of place in the ballroom."

Madeline shifted her gaze to look at the glass of water next to her. Taking it in her hand, she brought it up to take a couple of sips not realising she had been thirsty. She had run like she never had before. She helped herself with another glass of water when she heard Calhoun comment,

"Do you run a lot?" he asked while the same fork he had fed her with went to his mouth where he bit into his food to pull out the fork. 

It would have been an odd question to ask if Madeline had not escaped from the castle. All her hard work and putting her respect aside, she had taken the help only to end up back here, "No."

"Hmm," he responded, looking at her, taking another bite. If she wasn't used to running, it was possible that she would be in pain later at night. Maybe it would be a good reminder, thought Calhoun to himself. 

Calhoun took his own time to finish eating, admiring Madeline in the candlelit room that gave a soft golden glow that fell on her pale skin. Compared to this morning, she was quiet. He could tell she was unhappy with the way her plan to run away had failed. He wasn't done with her for the day though. If she was happy, he was still mad at her with the fact that she had neglected his words even after warning her. 

Before the table could be cleared, Calhoun stood up to have Madeline quickly stand on her feet. He said, "Let's see you to your room," he would have got her to walk around the castle with him but with her running and getting hurt today, he decided to walk her to her room.

"I will be fine."

"I know you will, but I wouldn't want you to make another run. And the time right now is not good. You never know which wolf will bite you and they aren't gentle," Madeline softly gulped hearing this. She didn't speak another word of protest and left the room with him. Madeline knew what she had done, and she didn't need to be reminded again. But if a better opportunity ever came up to leave this place, she would take it in a blink of an eye but then there was no opportunity. There were only the King's commands that had to be followed. 

When they reached her room, Madeline was eager to get inside her room. Bowing her head and murmuring a thanks, she went to reach for the door to hear,

"Is that how you take your leave in the presence of a King who was kind enough to save you from the lecherous man, feed you food and see you to your room?" demanded Calhoun. 

Madeline turned around, her eyes meeting his. She had never conversed with a King before to be taught the etiquette apart from thanking him. He continued to gauge her, and he brought his hand forward with the back of his hand to her view. Was she supposed to hold it? She asked herself. 

He then said, "Kiss it as gratitude of appreciation."
Cage and shackles- Part 1

Madeline looked at his face to make sure he wasn't joking, and he wasn't. He stood there with his hand extended in front of her, waiting for her to kiss his hand. She had heard how King's and Queen's hands were often given to their subjects to be kissed so that the servants would show their appreciation and loyalty to the King. 

After what she had done today, where a stranger had almost molested her, she decided it was the least she could do. At the end of the day she was still a girl who was lower than him in status. And with that thought, she took a step forward towards him. That little action alone had Calhoun's lips twist in a smile, his eyes looking at her bend. 

He had placed his hand down enough, that she had to bend. She moved forward and when her face reached his hand she dropped a kiss on the back of his hand and quickly took a step back.

"Where is the acknowledgement of thanks?" he asked, not happy with the incomplete gesture. Madeline gritted her teeth, and she moved forward again to hear him say, "I want a clear one."

Pressing her lips on his hand again, she said, "Thank you for saving me near the forest. If it weren't for you, I don't know what would have happened," she said the words just as he would want to hear from her. Giving him small answers would only end up with him having her repeat it until he got what he wanted to hear. 

Calhoun was more than pleased with the kiss, but he wasn't satisfied with just a kiss. He saw how she didn't meet his eyes, her throat softly gulping down the nervousness.

Hearing nothing from him, Madeline took it that it was safe to step into the room and she turned halfway before she was pulled towards him and he pushed her against the cold wall. Her eyes widened, looking at him who was close to her. Her heart thundered in her chest. 

"I did everything you asked me to do," she whispered. Her eyes were wide with a look similar to a deer that was caught by the predator. 

"Did you?" 

The question made Madeline think quickly if there was something that she had missed in the last few seconds. He had caught both her hands in his hands, pushing it to pin against the wall when she had tried to get away. 

"It makes me wonder if you are going to try running away again. Makes me want to imprison you," his cold breath fell on her lips, making her shiver. He moved his lips close to her as if he was about to kiss her, Madeline tried to push him, but he had her just where he wanted. Her lips were parted, and she felt the invisible pressure that was turning her knees weak in anxiety of what he was going to do, "The next time you run away, don't forget you will be the one to kiss me with those lips of yours," he said with his eyes on her. 

"I am here," she stated. 

"Right now, yes, but I don't know what types of crazy ideas you will find. Thanks to you from now on all the carriages will be checked before letting them pass out of the castle gates." Hearing this, Madeline could feel her hope crush, "Don't look disheartened," he smiled, and even though he said not to be, he was enjoying her despair. 

She could feel his hand firmly holding hers, "Understood?" he asked her. Madeline saw how his eyes moved to her lips before looking back into her eyes. 

"Yes," she replied to have him step back from her finally. He let go only one hand of hers. The other hand of hers was raised to his lips, and he kissed the back of her hand while keeping his eyes on her. The dark ambience created a silhouette on his face, and when he pulled away, he said, "Let me know if you need any help in bathing or dressing you. I will be sure to provide you with assistance. Goodnight, Maddie."

He took another step back before leaving the front of her room, and she finally relaxed against the wall before making her way inside the room. 

Calhoun walked away from Madeline's room, making way to his room to see Theodore, who was waiting outside for him. Theodore was a childhood friend of Calhoun's, but that didn't mean he forgot his manners in front of the King as he bowed his head in greeting. 

"I brought the papers which Duke Hornebolt was asked to submit on the land disputes that are taking place. There are dates and name of the people who the land has been given to by the magistrate, which Duke Hornebolt claims to be in his name," informed Theodore. 

"What else?" asked Calhoun, stepping inside his room who was followed by Theodore. 

"The land hasn't been given out to the public, and it belongs under the King's name," replied the man to have Calhoun turn around and ask,

"Does Duke Hornebolt think that he's my brother, that he decided to claim the land to be of his own? People can be hilarious, thinking they can slip out without bearing any consequences." He removed the coat that he wore, "Pull out the documents that have been signed and placed in the governor's hands. Have the Duke come visit me tomorrow." 

"Yes, milord," obliged Theodore, and he then said, "There's also something else that I found in the kitchen today."

Calhoun raised one of his eyebrows in question, and he saw Theodore pull out a small bottle from his pocket that had white powdered substance inside it. Taking it in his hand, Calhoun ran his finger around the bottle. Pulling out the little cap, he brought it close to his nose to smell it.

"Poison," said Calhoun. 

"I have imprisoned the servant who was carrying it," Theodore notified, and Calhoun picked the coat he had removed to wear it back again. 

"Time to go and see the fool."
Cage and shackles- Part 2

The dungeon of the castle was built underground away from the main quarters of the King. There were many cell rooms that were used to imprison men, women, children, regardless of their age. It was made of black rocks and stones, turning the entire place dark if it weren't for the lanterns that were occasionally lit when the guards or the other men who worked for the King appeared on his command. 

A man now was imprisoned in the cage. The same servant who had been caught with the little bottle that was found and came to Theodore's notice. The cage was not big but a small one that had metal rods facing inside it where he had been pushed into before being locked. The other side of the cage was rusted in time with the number of captives they had held down here, and the little thin rods forced itself into his legs, hands and face, tearing the skin that had initially left the man screaming who now didn't dare to make a move. 

Footsteps in the distance echoed in the dungeon, shadows appearing on the wall but the imprisoned man didn't have the energy to look at who was here. He was a human who had lost too much blood with the little rods piercing into his skin. Lanterns right now burned itself to shed light in the dungeon. 

"He seems to be in a better condition than I expected," said King Calhoun, walking towards the cage that hung with the iron chains from the ceiling. His calm red eyes took in the condition of the man. 

"It was one of the kitchen maids who caught him with the bottle. She came to inform me about it right away, and the guards brought him here," answered Theodore, "I have questioned him, but he has done nothing but deny it."

Calhoun took a step forward so that he could look at the man's bloody face closely. He noticed the servant man opening his eyes, looking at him before his eyes fell, "If you don't speak who you're working for, you will end up in the bridge of Blair like many other men and women who have caused treason to the King."

The servant man tried to move his mouth, but one of the iron had screwed its way into his cheek that made it difficult for him to speak. Seeing this Calhoun looked at Theodore who bowed his head, stepping forward, he started to turn the screws from outside that started to pull out on either side of the man's face that had him cry in pain. Blood coated the metal which was taken out of the servant's face. 

"I-I didn't d-do it. I would never betray my King, you're the o-only man I serve," spoke the servant, gathering enough energy to talk to the King.

"Don't lie when you're still being treated nicely in here," stated Calhoun from where he stood, "Who ordered you to poison me?" 

"I swear to the h-heavens. It wasn't m-me," the man replied. 

Calhoun exhaled to say, "What is your name?" 

"O-Oswyn Hanson," answered the servant without delay to the King's question. 

"Oswyn, there are two ways to go with it. One, you tell me who you're working for and if it is you who took the initiative to poison me. Two, you continue to deny and rot here in this dungeon for a few days before you are executed in front of your family if you have one," Calhoun cocked his head to the side and asked, "So what is it going to be?"

The man's eyes widened in fear, "I don't know how that bottle came to me-"

"Looks like the bottle has legs of its own that it made its way to your pocket. Isn't it?" asked Calhoun to see the man shake his head while flinching in pain, "You went so far as to add it in the food."

"I-I didn't do it, milord! I would never think about harming you," the servant begged him. 

"Why not?" asked Calhoun, and this had the man and Theodore's attention. The servant looked puzzled, and Calhoun continued to say, "Why didn't you think about killing me? It is hard to believe that everyone loves the King, who is a night creature, who has laid bodies on the ground. I am sure there have been times when my own right-hand man, Theodore has had thoughts about it," joked Calhoun.

Theodore's eyes moved to look at Calhoun at the words spoken but didn't speak a word on it. 

"I was working in the kitchen like any other day yesterday. Minding my own work and when I walked into the kitchen, I felt something heavy in my pocket. It was then I found it. I didn't do it! Please believe me, milord!" the servant man continued to plead. 

Calhoun stared at the man, looking into the man's eyes while gauging the way his eyes were dilated and his heart beating in the chest, "Theodore," called Calhoun and for a moment the servant thought that he was going to be released but instead the King said, "Have the order run through the other ministers and prepare the execution for Oswyn. The decree of punishment should be for committing treason against the King by going so far as to try poisoning the food. Make sure he is put up in the scaffold at the centre of the village where he hails from so that people know not to create another treason against their beloved King."

"N-no!" the man cried in desperation, "I have worked for years in the castle. Please don't do this to me. I didn't do it!" 

Calhoun didn't listen to him and instead turned to look at Theodore to say, "Have him shifted to the solitary cell. You can then draw up the papers to the ministers."

Theodore had a look of surprise at the mention of the solitary room but he obliged, "Yes, milord," he bowed his head. 

The servant man continued to shout and cry but Calhoun had already left the place.